Scabies is an intensely itchy skin rash caused by the Sarcoptes scabiei mite, which burrows into the skin. The itching, especially severe at night, results from the mite’s burrowing activity. This condition is highly contagious and can spread rapidly through close personal contact, making it common in households, child care facilities, schools, nursing homes, and correctional facilities. Due to its contagious nature, doctors often recommend treating all members of a household or close contacts simultaneously. Fortunately, scabies is easily treatable with medicated skin creams or pills that kill the mites and their eggs. However, itching may continue for several weeks after treatment.

Types of scabies

Indeed, variations beyond the classic form exist. Additional types comprise

  • Crusted (Norwegian): This variation frequently occurs in individuals with compromised immune systems. It tends to manifest as thick, crusty patches covering extensive areas of the skin. Those with crusted scabies may harbor millions of mites, far surpassing the 10 to 15 mites typically found in classic or typical scabies
  • Nodular: This variation is prevalent among children and primarily affects their genital area, groin, or armpits. Even after the mites have been eradicated, raised bumps may persist for an extended period


Symptoms of scabies encompass:

  • Severe itching, typically exacerbated during nighttime
  • Thin, wavy skin tunnels composed of small blisters or lumps

Scabies frequently manifests in skin folds but can also occur on various body parts. In adults and older children, scabies typically appears on the soles of the feet; on the chest; around the nipples; around the belly button; around the genitals; in the groin area; on the buttocks; between the fingers and toes; in the armpits; around the waist; around the insides of the wrists; on the inner elbows;

The following are typical locations for scabies in newborns and early children:

  • Face, scalp and neck
  • Palms of the hands
  • Fingers
  • Soles of the feet

If you’ve had scabies before, symptoms may appear within days of exposure. However, for those who have never had scabies, it can take up to six weeks for symptoms to develop. Notably, even without symptoms, you can still spread scabies.

Consult your doctor if you experience any signs of scabies. Other skin conditions, such as dermatitis or eczema, can also cause itching and small bumps. Your doctor can accurately diagnose the cause of your symptoms and provide appropriate treatment. While antihistamines or overthecounter lotions may relieve itching, they do not eliminate the mites or their eggs.


Scabies stems from a minuscule, eightlegged mite. The female mite tunnels just beneath the skin to deposit eggs. Once hatched, the larvae journey to the skin’s surface to mature. From there, these mites can migrate to other skin areas or to other individuals. Itching results from the body’s allergic response to the mites, their eggs, and their excretions. Transmission primarily occurs through close skintoskin contact, occasionally via shared clothing or bedding with an infected individual. It’s crucial to note that pets do not transmit scabies to humans. The mites affecting animals cannot survive or reproduce in human hosts. While contact with an animal carrying scabies might provoke transient itching if the mite penetrates the skin, it typically dies within days, rendering treatment unnecessary.

Risk factors

Scabies can affect anyone, regardless of their hygiene practices. Certain individuals are at a higher risk of contracting scabies, including

  • Individuals with compromised immune systems.
  • Individuals residing in densely populated environments.
  • Infants and children, due to frequent physical interaction with caregivers, friends, family, and classmates.
  • Elderly individuals, particularly those residing in nursing homes.
  • Healthcare professionals providing care for individuals unaware of their scabies infection.
  • Sexually active individuals